VIP access to this weekend’s All Points West Music and Arts Festival means hanging with the artists, but not actually watching them perform. Ignore the tempting buffet because there is too much beer to drink. Score a bunch of free shit and feel very important because of it. At the entrance, unimportant and important people alike wait in long-ass lines while their are bags checked. But we very important folk waltz right in.
Pass the Brazilian Girls and one gay man of CSS on the second stage, ignore Underworld on the main stage, and go straight to the VIP tent/area. Once inside the haven of exclusivity, I can breathe again, finally amongst my very important people. But when I go for a beer and the bartender has the gall to ask for money, it became very clear, very fast, that the whole thing was a sham, a put-up. Even the food had prices — a cardinal sin in VIPville. My lungs pinched up and the Statue of Liberty laughed at me. I’ve been had by promoters looking to grant concertgoers a quick fix of upper-crustery. I had to get out of this make-you-believe world and into the real, which meant only one thing: backstage.
Passing security is no big deal — I belong there, after all. Beyond the metal railing, behind the stage, is a world of artists golf-carting to and fro, and celebrities picking at fruit plates. Vice co-founder Suroosh Alvi hangs out with the hipster set. Natasha Lyonne (looking a little plump these days) is flanked by Animal Collective. There’s Liv Tyler bringing her son onstage to watch Kings of Leon (probably dating the whole band). Jessica Stam just walked by. Rosanna Arquette eats cantaloupe. Mary-Kate Olsen watches the show. Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon are there too. Miso too salty, chocolate cake too decadent. And when headliners Radiohead finally start playing, their music sounds so much better from behind the stage, muffled as it may be. It’s the music only very important ears get to hear.